"The Coup against Usurper Shah", Folio 745v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp, Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020), Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper

"The Coup against Usurper Shah", Folio 745v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Dust Muhammad
Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
ca. 1530–35
Made in Iran, Tabriz
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 7 3/16 x W. 10 7/16 in. (H. 18.2 x W. 26.5 cm)
Entire Page: H. 18 1/2 x W. 12 1/4 in. (H. 47 x W. 31.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Accession Number:
Not on view
In the year 630, during a fifty-day reign, Shah Farain Guraz completely dissipated the entire royal treasury. Because of this greed and injustice, the army soon turned against the shah and swore to rid Iran of the usurper. One day while on a hunt, the leader of the coup, Shahran Guraz, drew his bow as if to shoot a stag but instead shot the monarch in the back. The accompanying warriors then began to battle with each other. This illustration appears to take place after the murder of the shah. Unlike many battle scenes, the artist Dust Muhammad has rendered each horse’s armor with great care, resulting in a rhythmic and colorful pattern across the field of the painting
Shah Tahmasp, Iran (until 1568; gifted to Selim II); Sultan Selim II, Istanbul (from 1568); Sultan Selim III, Istanbul (by 1800); Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Paris (by 1903–d. 1934); his son, Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris and Pregny, near Geneva (by 1955–d. 1957); [ Stiebel Ltd., New York, until 1959; sold to Houghton]; Arthur A. Houghton Jr., New York (1959–70; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A King's Book of Kings: Persian Miniatures from Shah Tahmasp's Shahnama of 1528," May 4, 1972–December 31, 1972, no catalog.

Corning, NY. Corning Museum of Glass. "Tales from a King's Book of Kings," November 17, 1973–January 31, 1974, no. 52.

Baltimore. Baltimore Museum of Art. "Tales from a King's Book of Kings," February 12, 1974–March 31, 1974, no. 52.

Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 197.

"The Houghton Shah-nameh Miniatures." In Tales from a King's Book of Kings. Corning, NY: Corning Museum of Glass, 1973. no. 52, pp. 58-59, ill. fig. 52 (b/w).

Ettinghausen, Richard, ed. "Das Pferd in der Orientalischen Kunst." In Europäische Kunstzeitschrift. 1978. p. 67.

Dickson, Martin, and Stuart Cary Welch. The Houghton Shahnameh. Vol. vols. I & II. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1981. vol. II, ill. pl. 261 (b/w).

Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 281, ill. (color).

Canby, Sheila R. The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp: The Persian Book of Kings. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. pp. 323, 326, ill. fol. 745v, full-page color ill. p. 323; detail p. 326.

Blair, Sheila S., and Jonathan Bloom. By the Pen and What they Write. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015. pp. 184–186, ill. pl. 160.